What to Do If You Find a Stray Cat? Can You Keep a Stray Cat?

Stray cats are not petted cats.

Abandoned or lost, they have been to wild for a while, and now it is not easy to take them in. Yet, it is not impossible.


What are the measures to take if you find a stray cat, and can you keep it as a pet?

Well, you need to have the cat immediately checked by a vet, make sure that cat is not a wild cat, but truly a stray one, take care of hydration and food-related needs, and see if it needs to be neutered.

Then you can gradually promote it to a pet.


It is easier said than done. You can read this brief guide and let it take you to step by step on how to take care of a stray cat.

What to Do if You Find a Stray Cat?

When you find a stray cat, there is a big number of precautionary measures that you need to take. Here is the list of questions that you must ask from yourself:

  • Is this cat healthy (not a problem for me)?
  • Is it actually a stray cat – and not a pet cat that lost its home?
  • Is it actually a stray cat and not a feral cat?
  • Is the cat neutered and vaccinated?
  • Do you know the kind of food it needs?
  • Can you keep that cat at home? If not, can you make a shelter for it?

Now let us take these and all other questions and concerns and see as to how to handle a stray cat if you find one.

Is This Cat Healthy?

First and foremost concern should be to see whether your stray guest is healthy or not?

Everything else e.g. finding the previous owner if any, checking whether it is neutered or not and worrying about the kind of food it likes, comes second to this.

Some of the most important signs to look for are:

  • Whether eyes are bright & clear or not?
  • Does the mouth smell fresh, are gums pink and there are no sores?
  • Are there any signs of any sort of allergy or injuries on its skin?

Is it Actually a Stray Cat?

A stray cat is one that is either abandoned or lost for a long time. You cannot confuse a stray cat with a pet cat that lost its home just a few days or weeks ago.

You need to make sure that no one owns the cat anymore before you proceed with any caretaking procedures or before you even think of bringing it in.

See if the cat has any kind of chip or collar that can tell about any possible owners, or if it has a microchip, installed to track it.

Once you are sure that there is nothing on this cat to help find any possible owners, you can then take help of social media, print media or pamphlets to find the owner.

Is it Actually a Stray Cat or a Feral Cat?

A lot of people make this mistake …

And you might be one of them …

One of those who think that a feral cat is the same as a stray cat. While they are too similar to each other, they are not the same.

Yes, both of them live in wild, but a feral cat has been wild since the day it took birth, and a stray cat was once a pet, and then it was either abandoned or it got lost.

The major difference is that a feral cat has never been a pet or even to a shelter.

So how to tell whether your cat is feral or a stray one?

Here are some of the sure-shot signs that show whether your cat is feral or stray.

  • A purebred cat is more likely a stray cat
  • A male cat that is unneutered, is most likely a feral cat
  • If a cat is underweight or in bad health, it is highly likely a stray cat.
  • If a cat is unfriendly – and it becomes anger at your attempts to touch or hold it, it is definitely a feral cat.

Is the Cat Neutered and Vaccinated?

First of all, there is no way to be sure whether your newly found stray cat is vaccinated or not.

In such a case, best practice is to immediately go to the doctor and make sure that all necessary vaccinations are done.

And while you’re at it, you can ask the doctor if the stray cat is a male or a female, and in case if it is a male, it is neutered or not.

But let us suppose that you want to check this yourself – all you have to do is follow this procedure:

  • Position the stray cat in a way that his buttocks face your face.
  • Pull its tail straight up – remember you cannot perform this without winning the trust of this cat.
  • If this cat is a very furry one, make sure that you move the fur out of the way or you would not be able to see its genitals.
  • Now you should be able to see his anus and penis.
  • Now check if the cat has testicles; neutered cats do not have their testicles intact.

What Kind of Food a Stray Cat Eats?

We’ve already covered this topic for you; take a look at this.

However, here is a list of the kind of food a stray cat should be fed:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Tuna
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Sweet Potato
  • Cucumber

Apart from a large list of items that a stray cat can eat, here are the food items that should NEVER be fed to a cat:

  • Chocolate
  • Onion
  • Tea/Coffee
  • Cow Milk
  • Garlic
  • Grapes

And yes, you can feed your stray friend, processed dry food or canned food, but remember, canned food is the best.

Can You Keep a Stray Cat?


This one is not easy to answer, so we will divide this major question in many chunks.

But, before we do that, just for the sake of clarification, let me tell you again, that all abovementioned questions were answered to actually answer your one big question:

What to do if you find a stray cat?

Now we come back to this question – can you keep a stray cat?

Yes, you can, but it is not that simple. There are many subtleties to it that one must answer.

Here are the most important concerns related to adopting a stray cat. Make sure you read each part and do accordingly.


So far, it was a stray cat that you found, you took care of basic things like getting checked by a vet and all the stuff mentioned above.

But now:

Now, you want to take one step ahead and adopt this cat. The first thing to do is to make your mind. For starters, if you’ve been a dog person, you must know that cats are not like dogs; dogs believe in giving first, while cats expect a lot from your before you expect love and loyalty from them.

So be prepared to see that your home will not remain the same again, and so would be your life – with yourself, your spouse and children.

Feed the Cat

A cat recognizes a new friend (not master), when you give it something to eat. Since stray cats have been alone for a while, they are shy, afraid and reluctant in accepting your friendship request.

Feet the cat outside the home if it is not yet willing to come inside. Take the bowl farther from the house if the cat is still not willing to eat.

Also, replace this food with that food to see what kind of food it will happily eat.

Bring It Inside

After a few days, bring the bowl inside the house and the cat will also follow the suit. Make sure to lock any other pets if you have them.

And yes:

So far, your fluffy friend has only admitted to come inside the house; don’t take it as permission to pet it or play with it. It is time to play it safe.

Isolate the Cat


Well, I didn’t mean to just isolate it, but isolate it only to protect it from other cats and protect yourself and your family from it, until you are done with tests and vaccinations.

Remember, by this time, the cat has recognized your house as its new home; when you feed a cat, there is little to no chance left for them to leave your house.

Make Sure Cat is Stray

We have covered this topic above; just make sure no one owns the cat anymore.

Tame it and Befriend it

That’s it!

No one responded to your queries; no one owns this cat. It already likes you and your home. Now befriend it, tame it and make sure it gets familiar with family members and other pets.

The most important thing – keep feeding it at regular intervals. The only thing that can keep a cat truly yours, is taking good care of it.

And this is it. I hope you would find this guide helpful.

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